Fine footwear for men and women, with a special focus on ladies shoes, is featured at The Shoe Buckle, located at 106 Mercer Street in Hightstown. This long-time popular store has a rich history, and is a unique family business.
It was opened in 1970 by Harry and Ruth Sackowitz, reports current partner and manager Robert Sackowitz.
“I’m the third generation in the family to be part of the store. My grandparents founded it, and my father Stuart is the owner now. My grandmother had a six and a half narrow shoe size, and it was very hard to fit. She wanted to open a shoe store, and my grandfather, who was a chicken farmer, agreed. She named the store The Shoe Buckle.
“Then, she had an opportunity to teach first grade, which she wanted to do, and so my grandfather gave up chicken farming, and ran the shoe store.”
It started out as a full-service store with shoes for the entire family, and has been a popular Hightstown mainstay ever since. Today, the focus is on upscale, high quality men’s and women’s shoes, including lines from Mephisto, SAS (a comfort line made in the U.S.), New Balance (U.S.), and specifically for women, Arche, Pas de Rouge, Thierry Rabotin (all French companies), BeautiFeel from Israel, and Agua Italia from Italy
“These are high quality, stylish shoes that you won’t find everywhere,” explains Robert Sackowitz. “My customers will spend the money for something different — style, color, and comfort. They like it if it is different.
“Color is very big today,” he continues. “Reds, orange, blue, navy, as well as brown and black. We have special suedes that have been sprayed to be rain-resistant, and while comfort is very important today, it can’t just be ‘vanilla’ comfort. You have to have flair and style. Some panache!”
Customers like variety too, he adds. Women’s styles are no longer dictated. It’s very individual. “People like everything. All styles. Round toes, square, and pointed. It’s all out there. Flats are very popular today, and we have a great selection.”
Boots are a fashion statement these days, and are especially favored in fall and winter. The selection includes a big variety — from low ankle styles to very tall boots. Water-resistant, they vary from casual to dress.
Fit is crucial at The Shoe Buckle. Customers can count on getting a shoe that fits their foot, emphasizes Mr. Sackowitz. “We carry sizes five to 11 in medium, wide, and extra wide for women, and seven to 13 in medium, wide, and extra wide for men. We always measure a customer’s foot, and shoes can also be adjusted to fit. Podiatrists often refer people to us, and we have two certified pedorthists available. With 20,000 shoes in stock, we have something for everyone.”
Mr. Sackowitz has a distinct sense of pride in being part of this successful family business. “I have learned a lot from my father and grandfather,” he observes. “My father is very focused on the business side, and I learned that from him. I Iearned about customers from my grandfather: how to treat a customer, how to make someone a customer, and how to keep a customer.
“My grandfather was not just my grandfather; he was my best friend. Now that I have a new baby, a son — Chase Harry — I want to have that kind of relationship with him, and pass on what I have learned to my son.”
The store offers an attractive display, as well as ample room to sit down, try on shoes, and walk around. Customers will also find a selection of socks, handbags, evening bags, and accessories, such as shoe polish.
“I love the interaction with the customers,” says Mr. Sackowitz. “They come from all over the area, including Princeton, and also from as far away as 30 miles. Many have come since the store began, and we have special relationships with them; there are different generations from the same family.
“They come for our high quality footwear, the lines we carry, and the service,” he continues. “Some even buy five or 10 pairs at a time! I continually go to all the shoe shows to be up-to-date, and I am very proud of what we do. We also have the greatest team, a really great staff, and we do whatever we can to satisfy our customers. In addition, we have special events and promotions, and twice-a-year sales, including ‘Buy one, get one’ (buy one pair, get one free).”
The Shoe Buckle is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, Saturday 10 to 8, Sunday noon to 5. (609) 448-7895.